The Basics of Baccarat


Baccarat is one of the most popular casino table games in the world. It is played with three to six standard decks of cards, and the dealer passes out two cards to each of the two gaming spaces at the table–the banker’s space and the player’s space. Players place their wagers on which hand they think will win, and the game ends when either the player’s or the banker’s hand is closest to nine. A third bet–the tie–pays off eight to one, but it has a much higher house edge, and so it is avoided by serious players.

Originally, the croupier or dealer passed out the cards from a small box, called a bead plate, which was placed on top of the table. A bead chain or string was connected to each card, and the dealer would use the beads to mark the points scored by both the player’s and the banker’s hands. These bead chains or ‘roads’ are now replaced by electronic displays attached to the table, which display the same information in real time.

As the game spread, so did the rules of the game, and in the early 1990s a new rule was added which changed when a third card is drawn for the player or banker. This rule change was intended to make the game more fair for the player, and it also reduced the house’s advantage to 1.2 percent on the banker and player bets. The change was a success, and it continues to be the standard for all baccarat play today.

In addition to the bets on the Player and Banker hands, some casinos offer a third bet on a Tie. This bet pays out 9 to 1 if the Banker and Player hands have the same total, but it is generally not very popular in the United States. Some online casinos also offer a variety of side bets, but these can be expensive and are best avoided.

Once the bets are made, the cards are dealt. The Player and Banker hands are both a combination of face-up and face-down cards. The object is to get a score close to 9, with nine being the most desired result. The simplest way to do this is to compare the number of tens and nines in each hand. The hand with the most tens is the winner.

While baccarat was once a game reserved for high rollers and James Bond pageantry, it has become increasingly popular worldwide, and its popularity is not limited to the highest limit areas of the casino. The game has become more accessible, and the minimum bet is usually less than $20. It can even be played on a regular casino table, with lower minimums than blackjack tables. Baccarat is also available in a range of online gambling sites, including those that offer specialty games like Lunar New Year baccarat. This version of the game features different odds for both the player and banker, and it offers special bonuses to attract high rollers.